Just after Colin Murphy’s Inside the GPO gave audiences a look at what the leaders of the 1916 Rising were up to at the centre of events, Anu are continuing the dramatic reimagining around the Moore Street area, where the Rising’s last scenes were played out. And this time, we hear from the foot soldiers of the conflict, as well as the poor of Dublin, caught in the crossfire of history.
In many ways, Sunder, directed by Louise Lowe, typifies the striking, immediate approach that has made Anu’s name, delivering sharp shots of social history and commentary via intense scenes in front of tiny audiences.
As with The Boys of Foley Street, Vardo and other previous works, we find ourselves on the north inner-city’s streets, at first following directions via mobile phone into the alleyways around Moore Street, the rebels having fallen back from the GPO. Here, we are asked to re-see the dead bodies of civilians that lay in the streets.
We soon find ourselves at table in an Asian buffet of the kind that is below the radar of even the most intrepid middle-class foodies. There, Sean McLoughlin (Craig Connolly), a recently appointed Commandant General (he has the T-shirt to prove it) plots a “death or glory” denouement.
Soon, however, we are rushed by one volunteer to the “safety” of a pair of rooms above a butcher’s — now become a spooky tenement from hell, designed by Owen Boss. In this disturbing darkness, we witness claustrophobic scenes of panic and disorientation, witnessing death at first hand.
The pitch of intensity built up in these rooms dissipates somewhat in one final tableau that is too expressionistic and unmoored from what has come before, but not before we’ve had a chance to consider old and new displacements and social upheavals, in a part of the city that, though a crucible of the state, been largely ignored in the narrative of Official Ireland.
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